It’s a mothtery

This is the loveliest time of the year.  Everything is bursting with life, and the moths have started flying.  I’m just getting into moths, thanks to Jon’s moth trap, which is a strong light with a basin underneath, in which you leave old egg boxes overnight.  In the morning, your egg boxes are covered with moths.

Then you spend the next three days trying to identify just which brown thing that one is.  A combination of the Lewington moth book,  ukmoths.co.uk and Sussex Moth Group helps.  We’re sticking to the macro moths – micro moths are a whole other universe.

So far, in April and May, we have seen:

(April) Pebble prominent, Pale prominent, Spruce carpet, Hebrew character, Common Quaker, White ermine, Chocolate tip, Birch mocha, Yellow horned, Lunar marbled brown, Scorched carpet, Swallow prominent and several unidentified brown jobs.

(May) Great prominent, Cinnabar, White ermine, Chocolate tip, Poplar hawkmoth (aka Klingon Warhawk), Poplar grey, Ingrailed clay, Common (or possibly Powdered) Quaker, Flame shoulder, Miller, Muslin, Waved umber, Scorched wing, Blood vein, and several unidentified brown jobs.  

Here are some.

Here are some I can’t identify.

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The Tyranny of the Skirt

The British Army has declared that women can kill people just the same as men can.  More women are joining the Army; there are more female officers; women can now be submariners in the Navy.  Equality is making leaps and bounds.

On the other hand, the tragic story of Anne-Marie Ellement shows that there are still fundamental problems – problems not confined to the armed forces.  Part of the problem is that female soldiers still wear skirts.

women_combat_uk_2

This is not a trivial matter.  Skirts are restrictive of movement and therefore not practical army wear in any case.  (Kilts are different:  they are cut to allow great freedom of movement.)  Notice, in this picture, that one out of the three soldiers is kitted out fit for battle.  He’s the bloke.  Ideally you wouldn’t do battle in ceremonial garb, but he could; she and she couldn’t.  Joanna Lumley managed to do all sorts of stunts as an inappropriately-dressed Purdey in the New Avengers – but that’s telly.  A barrister friend said that at a case the other day, the small hearing room was strewn with suitcases full of briefs (the paper kind), and one Lady Barrister asked them to move the cases as she couldn’t open her legs enough to step over them, owing to a ludicrous ‘smart’ skirt.

More than this, however, is the fact that skirts differentiate the sexes on sight.  Surely soldiers are soldiers, whether they’re male or female?  If you’re going to allow them the same duties, and treat them the same in law and war, then you must allow them to wear the same uniform.  It’s called ‘uniform’.  Not ‘biform’ (see my post on school uniform for further ranting.)  Women in skirts are sexualised objects; women dressing different to men are different to men.

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Scottish Independence

I’m awfully afeared that the Scots will vote for independence, simply because humans have an inbuilt propensity for making bad decisions.  Fiona Laird’s article in the Grauniad today (April 30th) was stonking, pointing out that we have to divorce Scottish independence from short-term politics:  it’s forever, not like voting for the next 5-year government.

Tom Heap’s programme on Scotland’s power suggested that English/ Welsh fuel bills would see a sharp spike if the Scots detach themselves, as we’ll have to pay for new nuclear power stations (WHY does anyone think building new nuclears is a good idea?????), whereas much of the renewables infrastructure is already underway in Scotland, and renewables are cheaper to build, anyway.  (I think I got that right.)  In effect, we’re paying for Scotland’s past fuel consumption, because the Scots used the same sources as every other Brit and the decommissioning and recommissioning of power stations is all our expense.  No doubt there are other cases like this:  the rest of the UK will have to foot the bill, while the Scots go free.

If this is the case, surely Scottish independence should be voted on by every UK citizen?

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Poor people more likely to be savaged by dogs

So said a report in the Grauniad.  That was just the headline grabber; the article was about the use of statistics, more than anything else.  But the dog issue is interesting.  There are a few reasons that people from deprived backgrounds and areas are more likely to be attacked by dogs.  First, the breeds of dogs:  fashionable amongst the masses at the moment are bull terriers.  However nice Fifi is, she’s still a bull terrier.  Just like our Toby, a greyhound:  he’s a lovely hound, but he’ll eat your cat.  He can’t help it, and there’s no training him out of it.  Bull terriers have been bred for fighting and for cramping their powerful jaws over nice soft throats.  Good training, from puppyhood (we only got Toby in adulthood, and you can’t teach an old dog…), and a happy home will probably mean that these jaws are kept to munching Winalot or teddy bears.  But, second point, a lot of people – from whatever class/ background – don’t realise the amount of training that dogs need, and don’t realise that training’s often needed for the human as well as the dog.  If you’re inconsistent at all, the dog will notice; if you don’t mean what you say, the dog will notice.  You have to be alpha pack leader:  that’s hard to pull off if you by nature are not, and most people are not:  humans are pack animals too, and it stands to reason that more people will be led rather than lead.  I have seen many people who are not in control of their dog, and there are times when I have not been in control of mine:  entirely to do with me, and not the dog.

Thirdly, dogs need time and not to be left alone for huge periods of it.  If you have to work and leave your dog home alone for hours, of course it’s going to have a negative effect on the dog.  Fourthly, working breeds, such as terriers, need a lot of exercise – much more than a quick walk round the housing estate (they also need good food, not Bakers or Butchers or other similar crap; but this is expensive).  Lastly, violence has a lot to do with things.  Not necessarily physical or extreme violence, but the lack of quietness and contentment that accompanies lives full of scarcity.  Households where shouting is the norm will not produce placid dogs.

Dogs are not playthings or toys:  they are intelligent, working creatures.

 

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Sackbutts and Krauts

The Germans/ Austrians had a more lasting relationship with the sackbutt and its child, the trombone, than the British, French or Italians. When Handel wanted trombones for Israel in Egypt, it’s thought that he employed a group of touring German Pausane players.  St Mark’s in Venice, whose heyday was perhaps the time of Gabrieli, Monteverdi and large numbers of cornets and sackbutts, stopped employing trombonists in 1732.  Germany, on the other hand, liked her brass, not just keeping the trombone in circulation, but inventing new instruments or preserving older weird ones.  Bach used a high trumpet for the second Brandenburg (the trumpeter of the Bach Collegium Japan recreated it, with appalling effects) and the ‘lituo’ in his lovely O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht.  (No one seems to be sure what the ‘lituo’ was, but it’s some sort of horn.)

Long after Britain had to rely on wandering German trombonists and Italy had stopped its abundance of brass, Mozart used a trombone to be the Last Trumpet in ‘Tuba mirum spargens’ in his Requiem.

 

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HS2

It’s depressing that something quite so wrong-headed can be not only discussed but encouraged by the government and parliament.

1) Who cares if a businessman can get to Birmingham or London half-an-hour sooner?  Why the hell are they travelling anyway?  Skype it or stay at home.  We need to travel less if we are to get anywhere near the carbon cuts that we need to reach in order to survive in anything like a continuing society or even race…

2) Why do we need to provide yet another spoke to London?  Apparently this HS2 will mean more business in the midlands and north west.  Bollocks.  It’ll just mean more commutable areas to London, with resultant rising house prices, etc.

3) Why do we need to batter our wildlife even more?  It’s bad enough with all these extra houses which we ‘need’ (more bollocks:  between empty homes and getting northerners and Scots back up north, we really have all the homes we need already), but HS2 will destroy ancient woodland and slice wildlife corridors.  We are not the only species in Britain, and we can’t survive without all of the other ones.

Aaaaaaaaaaargh.  When will Economics be seen for what it is:  unsustainable hogwash?

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Knight of the Burning Pestle

The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe is fabulous – the woodwork dotingly authentic, the ceiling work convincingly Renaissance.  The play is an appropriate Jacobean comedy, with Jacobean costumes and a nice eye for period detail.

WHY was the music so anachronistic, then?  There were a couple of echt Jacobean tunes (Jolly red nose, for example), but it was largely disgusting 20th-century saccharine – so much so that I was really put off the entertainment.  It came from the backside of Nigel Hess, a TV composer of some merit, who really ought to have known better.  The band was largely authentic, with a cornet, viols, gitarres – but not entirely:  there was a modern violin. ?????

Emma Kirkby once pointed out, sadly, that TV and radio shows always used music of a later period than the one the programme was about.  Whilst the Globe lot are super-careful about visual details, they don’t seem to care about the accuracy of musical accompaniment.

Why does music, of all the arts, have to suffer like this?  Music was our first art; it is our premier art.  Let’s all strive to be a little more musically literate.

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